Lady Park Wood is a high Security Woodland and as such I have not actually been there…that is onto the actual site, but I have walked all the way round the perimeter fence. This is a Forestry Commission woodland and it has a very secure fence all the way round. It is about 6 ft high and designed to keep deer out. It is a pity that the web sites about this woodland do not tell you this before one takes the trouble to visit.
I visited on 26th January 2018, just for the record, my Mothers birthday and she would have been 100 years old, but she dropped dead some years ago. They are the words my Father used when he phoned me ‘Hello Alan , your Mother has just dropped dead’. Always short and to the point, my Father. The 26th Jan is also my sons birthday. Anyway, the purpose of my visit was mainly to find and photograph a Stinking Hellebore for my Woodland wildflower blog.
So rather than carry all my camera gear round I just took one camera with a Sigma 105mm Macro lens… That’s my excuse for some of the photos.
Yes it is high security so even if I had seen a Stinking Hellebore there would have been little chance of getting a close up photo of it. Actually you can see the value of restricting access to Deer and maybe wild boar as the surrounding woodland is almost completely devoid of under-story plant life. However does restricting access to Deer mean also restricting access to humans?
So no Hellebores, but I did see some some other species, quite a lot of Laurel Spurge which is in flower at this time, as are all the Hazel catkins, also some Arron’s Rod, lots of Dog’s Mercury just coming up, one patch of Daffodils, not in flower but looking like they could be wild ones, they were miles from any habitation, I also saw quite a few Snowdrops but these were all along the banks of the river Wye. None were growing more than about 3 feet from the waters edge. I suspect the reason is that the bulbs are distributed by flood waters washing them out from a place up steam and then carrying them down some distance and depositing them on the bank. Then they grow and establish a little colony.
In terms of wildlife, I saw Grey Squirrels but also a long narrow dark brown shape swimming in the water. I am fairly sure it was a Mink. Birds included Cormorants, Mallards, Mandarin Ducks and Mute Swans on the river and Bullfinch and Goldcrest in the woods.
This was a long walk as it is some distance from where you park your vehicle to Lady Park Wood, having said that there are good views and fresh air. The route along the Wye is part of the Peregrine National Cycle trail, so its easy walking. Getting up the side of Lady Park Wood is a tough climb and getting back down is a nightmare. I used the Forestry commission fence for most of the way to hang on to. A good walk would be from the parking area all the way along to Symonds Yat and back. There is a swinging bridge half way along. I had a look but did not cross it, I am not one for heights.
So no Hellebore but a good day out, however if you are thinking of visiting Lady Park Wood, forget it, Access strictly for midgets and very small ones. Can the Forestry Commission simply prevent us from visiting one of the woods they manage? after all it is not them that own them, it is owned by you and me and paid for from our taxes…
Finally on my way home and only half a mile from our house I saw this growing from a garden wall. It is a hellebore, not quite a wild stinking one but quite similar I suspect a hybrid between a garden variety and a Green Hellebore. A few weeks later I found probably hundreds of Stinking Hellebores growing up the hill from where I live in Clearwell near Coleford Gloucestershire. Probably not more than 200 yards from my house!!!
I recently received this comment which is quite useful. I went on an organised visit to Lady Park Wood last weekend. It’s closed to the public because it has been left without human intervention since 1944 to study natural forest processes, and its progress has been regularly recorded at the level of individual trees. There’s more about this in George Peterken’s recent book: https://www.cabi.org/bookshop/book/9781780648651 It’s a nationally important site :